10 tips for a beginner collector.

10 tips for a beginner collector.

5 March 2019


A private collection of contemporary art by Doris and Donald Fisher (owners of the GAP store chain), donated to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)


After many years of monitoring the relationship “collector – curator – gallery owner – dealer – artist – art” in the Ukrainian art market, I would answer this: collectibles – this is about all of the above and even more.


I note that in the era of universal globalization, the Ukrainian market of contemporary art has not been left out of the world trends and, despite its inertia, has all the components that are characteristic of the art market of any prosperous country. Consumption of art has increased and is connected with this, including the fact that today it is not enough to have one more car, house, yacht and so on to form a status and reputation in the society. Surprisingly, it is art objects that replace or supplement missing items in this list. Art objects have become prestigious.

So what attracts people to this world? What is the secret of the “infectiousness” of art? I’ll try to answer such seemingly simple questions.

  1. One of the factors of growth in demand for works of art in the world is the increase in the number of private collections. “Rivalry” among collectors, the desire to find and purchase the rarest product provokes a rise in prices and fuels the excitement and performativity of the very process of acquiring the desired object at auction auctions.

On the most expensive lots are rumors. Before the auction, the media warms the interest of the masses and, of course, potential buyers to the “most valuable” works, and after the bidding feeds the market with incredible stories. Collections are filled with new and new works, they take shape, significance, are classified by periods, styles, genres, artists’ choice, etc. Many of these collections are then transferred to museums. The work, most likely, will no longer appear in the elite art market, which will add them to the quality characteristics of rarity and even uniqueness.

Possessing art objects has become prestigious and I see this in the Ukrainian art market, but with its own peculiarities: due to objective circumstances connected with the political and economic situation, Ukrainian collectors today often sacrifice their ambitions in favor of an affordable cheap offer on the market. “If we talk about contemporary artists, then many are looking for interesting works of famous contemporaries at good prices. Now the situation when the price of work dictates demand. There are examples where good work is expensive, and not for a long time. And, on the contrary, the average work of a well-known author at a good price very quickly finds its buyer, “says Mikhail Vasilenko, co-owner of the Ukrainian auction house” Golden Section “.

It is natural. Collecting involves investing in art. That is, risking and consciously not being guided by strict rules that are mandatory in dealing with other assets while forming an investment portfolio, the collector, when buying a product, expects a price increase.

  1. Art is always more than a subject of bargaining. The price does not depend only on the economic leverage of the market – supply and demand. Although, you see, not everyone can consider the value that makes a work of art unique. “What we know or believe in affects how we see things around us,” writes the legendary art critic John Berger in his book The Art of Seeing. Depth, meanings, truth, talent and much more are incorporated by the author into a work of art, can give the collector a new opportunity to learn and share these unique meanings and experiences. But for this it is necessary to have time and a desire to learn to understand art, be able to relate the work to the historical context, to strive for objectivity, avoiding information distortions.
Andy Warhol, Liz 3, 1963. The work entered a $ 500 million collection, donated by the owners of Helen Nison and Stefan Edlis to the Chicago Institute of Art

The collector is motivated by different motives, which in one way or another influence the definition of the main components of any brand in art: prestige, status, progressiveness, personal contribution to the great, the opportunity to be one of the chosen ones, to be one of the “preaching” eternal values in the era of global and rapid changes, the desire to maintain the safety of history and heritage, the possibility of influencing social processes, etc. Art performs these tasks particularly successfully.

  1. Another significant factor in increasing the demand for art in the world is a steady increase in the number of art, especially private, museums in the world. You will say that museum collections need to be filled with objects, but where should they be taken? That’s right – in the market. I want to draw your attention here to the fact that collectors who have knowledge and taste, affect the processes not only of the art market. And the prices for work depend not only on auction and dealer trades. The world of art is immense, all the mechanisms of the institutional circulation of infrastructure are involved, one of the most influential in which the museum still remains today.

The connection between collectors who replenish museum collections, and museums affects virtually all processes in the environment. Museums are guarantors of the quality of art accepted and acquired, which forms the power of their influence. After all, the museum is the main expert.

Despite the fact that in Ukraine there is no Museum of Modern Art, we work with institutions that partially replace its functions. One of the main – the National Art Museum of Ukraine, which is the largest archive of art objects of different periods and replenishes its collection, including works of contemporary Ukrainian artists.

I will give here an illustrative example of cooperation between an artist, a gallery, a collector and a museum. In September 2016, the Ukrainian collector Yuri Kogutyak purchased a series of works “Procedural Room” by Nikita Kadan in the Bottega Gallery for further transfer to the permanent collection of the National Art Museum. In this case, it is also noteworthy that at this time the “Procedural Room” work was already in the public collections of the Pinakothek der Moderne and the Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr in Dresden.


Nikita Kadan. “Procedural Room” (2009-2010) in the collection of the National University of Chemical Technology

Such cooperation is beneficial for all parties, including for the collector, who contributed to the development of the culture of his country. In all countries with developed economies, such a reputation greatly contributes to strengthening positions in business circles. This is also advantageous for the museum, whose collection has been supplemented by significant, valuable work of contemporary art. And for a visitor whose taste will be formed on the basis of what the museum exposition will offer him, filled with relevant works of art.

So, to be a collector is exciting, promising and prestigious. But where to start? We collect our family collection of modern Ukrainian art, starting from 2007. And that this property was also an investment, it stands:

  1. Give sincerely to this hobby. The goal should be the collection itself, not the resale of the work.
  2. But if you need to sell products with margins after a certain period, then concentrate on the works of modern authors.
  3. Return on investment depends on what kind of work and which authors you choose. Therefore, please contact the gallery owners, who have been working for many years to promote a certain circle of artists, create their brands. This work was done for a reason – when a lot of people write about an artist, they study it, buy and sell, it means that he (or she) deserves it.
  1. The exhibition “The Harlequin Comes …” collection of Igor Dichenko, transferred to the Mystetsky Arsenal fund by the widow of the collector Valeria Virska


      1. But when choosing, remember that the best collections are created by people who listen to their intuition and rely on their knowledge.
      2. The undoubted plus of investments in art is that the value of the product will never fall to zero, unlike the shares.
      3. In the price of art there is always an emotional component.
      4. Remember about the attendant risks, in modern art there are no objective criteria for evaluation.
      5. If you live and work in Ukraine, you need to focus on Ukrainian art (for example, the Chinese market of contemporary art was the third largest auction by 2007, thanks to the investments of Chinese collectors).
      6. Do not forget about young artists – you can not only support young talent, but also for affordable money to buy works that in 5-10 years will cost an order of magnitude more. How to choose your pet or darling? Follow the contests of young artists (in Ukraine there are several): who gets into the finalists and wins.
      7. Start buying before you start buying everything, and you can sell when the price is high.

      Yes, there are a lot of subtleties, but all of them will allow you to successfully maneuver on the fascinating path to creating your own collection. I write this based on my own experience.

      Source: http://nv.ua/style/blogs/10-sovetov-nachinajushchemu-kollektsioneru-blog-mariny-shcherbenko-1600624.html